‘GPs often end up the fall guys for the government’s failure’, says College Chair

College Chair Kamila Hawthorne appears in today’s Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph responding to claims by the Lib Dems that patient complaints about dentistry and general practice are rising.

She also pushes back on calls for ‘arbitrary’ access targets. You can read her full response here.

Professor Kamila Hawthorne, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said:

“It is sad and troubling to hear that GPs have been receiving a higher number of complaints due to difficulty in access - our patients should be able to see a GP when they need one and we share their frustration when they struggle to get appointments. The unfortunate reality is that our hard working and committed GPs often end up the ‘fall guys’ for the government’s failure to appropriately resource and finance primary care.

“General practice has been allowed to wither on the vine for over a decade and we no longer have enough GPs to meet demand. Last month, GPs delivered over 32 million appointments, a rise of nearly 5 million appointments per month from September 2019, all with 827 less fully qualified, full time GPs than in December 2019. The average number of patients per GP in England is now an overwhelming 2,296 - an increase equivalent to an extra 153 patients per GP since the end of 2019.

“While arbitrary access targets make good soundbites and might win votes in the short-term, they are not the solution to the crisis in general practice that is threatening to destabilize the entire health service. It's all very well to make grandiose statements about setting legal targets for patients to see their GP within 24 hours, but this will be impossible with our current workforce crisis and the Liberal Democrats need to be ready to address that problem first before they can assume these targets can be met.

“We have launched our new manifesto ahead of the General Election setting out the seven solutions we need to improve care for patients and safeguard the future of general practice and the wider NHS. As well as increasing the number of medical graduates going into GP training, we are calling on all the major political parties for a fully funded national retention scheme to encourage existing GPs to remain in the profession and measures to cut the amount of time that GPs have to spend on bureaucracy.

“We hope that our patients will get behind us and support our calls in the run-up to the General Election. We want general practice to survive and our patients to receive the care they need.

“Our patients and our GPs deserve more.”

Further information

RCGP Press office: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editors

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 54,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.